Learning Communities

Learning communities are at the heart of CIRTL’s activities. Therefore we encourage students in our MOOCs (massive open online courses) to locate and participate in what we’re calling MOOC-Centered Learning Communities (MCLCs).  Generally, these communities meet once a week for 60-90 minutes for lively discussions and activities centered around that week’s course material.  Local learning communities are asked to share their ideas and perspectives with the global learning community created by the course.

Facilitators are provided with a detailed facilitator guides, with suggested discussion questions and activities for use during weekly meetings.  Facilitators are also invited to share questions and suggestions for the course with the teaching staff.  If you’re interested in facilitating a local learning community, please see our facilitators page.

During the first installment of course 1 in the fall of 2014, 47 MCLCs were established across the country with an average size of 10 participants in each community.  Participants, including grad students, postdocs, and faculty, came from a variety of fields, ranging from chemistry to biomedical engineering to mathematics.  Course completion rates for those participating in MCLCs were approximately 50% higher than for those not in local communities.

During the second offering of course 1 in the fall of 2015, we increased the number of learning communities by almost 50% to 69 total learning communities around the world!

Here is some feedback we received from former facilitators about the importance of the MCLCs:

“Being at a research intensive institution, it’s been difficult to find and connect with other graduate students who are interested in education and teaching as a future career. This learning community allowed us to meet and connect and, hopefully, will serve as the start of an education interest group.”

“I believe they very much enjoyed talking about challenges with applying pedagogy and ways to eliminate those challenges. We met 4 times for 1.5 hours, participants ALWAYS stayed late continuing discussing the respective topics.”

“Our participants reported that the primary benefit of the MCLC was accountability to actually watch the videos and stay current with the course, and secondarily growing our local STEM teaching community.”

“[I learned] that doctoral students and post-docs really enjoyed an environment to talk about their teaching and the participants were very supportive of one another even though everyone was virtually strangers to one another.”

If you are interested in participating in an MCLC please contact the facilitator closest to you by email.  Please note that the following list is not a complete list of all the MCLC facilitators affiliated with our courses.  We will be updating this list continually so if you do not see a facilitator listed for your area, you may check again periodically to see if one has been added. If you do not see an MCLC in your area by the time your course starts, check the edX discussion forums for facilitators that may be recruiting participants near your location.

Spring 2023 MOOC-Centered Learning Communities: check back for updates